3 items from 2013
In the fourth week of Turner Classic Movies' 15-week series, sound comes to The Story of Film, bringing with it a host of possibilities and, for a time, setting the art form back on its heels. Narrator Mark Cousins points out how early sound films were restricted by the tremendous bulk and noise of primitive cameras -- see Singin' in the Rain for the fictional version -- but the film, on the series, concentrates on movies that rushed to exploit the new possibilities offered, from the syncopated beat of a city coming to life in Rouben Mamoulian's Love Me Tonight to gangster James Cagney throwing himself to the ground at the noise of a truck backfiring in The Public Enemy. Here's Criticwire's annotated guide to Week Four's first night, with notes on the second to follow tomorrow. View previous weeks' coverage here. Monday, Sept. 238 p.m.: Love Me Tonight (1932) (U. »
- Sam Adams
Asked who was France's greatest poet, André Gide responded with the famously rueful answer: "Victor Hugo, hélas!" Cameron Mackintosh, the impresario who brought Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel's Les Misérables to London and transformed it into a worldwide phenomenon after its mild Parisian success and disastrous British first-night reception, would give a rather more positive response. I was in that first-night audience on 30 September 1985, and shared the general opinion that it was an indifferent show, shallow and somewhat forced in tone. I emerged with only one song planted in my head, Master of the House, sung by Alun Armstrong as Thénardier, the outrageously opportunist innkeeper, a number that struck me as rather like You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two from Oliver!
I wasn't writing about the »
- Philip French
A bi-weekly look at issues in contemporary film culture and technology.
In spite of its prestige pic credentials, Tom Hooper's Les Misérables is almost endearingly eccentric. Almost. Shot from odd angles with distortive wide-angle lenses which often give the impression that space is warping and shifting around the characters, the film strikes an awkward balance between showy glitz and intentional roughness. Most importantly, there's the film's central gimmick: instead of lipsyncing, the leads performed most of their singing live on the set.
As gimmicks go, it's an interesting one; whether talking or singing, voices coming from moving or seated or costumed bodies sound nothing like voices recorded in a studio. The sound of "live" voices—flat notes and all—singing along to an off-screen orchestra mirrors the film's glamorous / scuzzy visual aesthetic.
It's a risky idea, and a lot of the time it doesn't quite gel. Russell Crowe, for instance, »
- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
3 items from 2013
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